Companies using agile methods [5 reading tips]
German companies are fit for the digital transformation from the inside out. Not just external macro data such as the status quo of the online retail has proven this. Working methods and internal organisation are adapting to the pace of the digital world. Agile methods are no longer empty promises. On the contrary: Every other major company already relies on agile project management, as a from Bitkom Research makes clear (German only).
Why is agility so important?
Agile is more than just innovation. This new mentality of workflows and their definition comes from the need to reduce labour costs and align objectives to actual requirements that waterfall models typically can not cope with.
The need for agilities begin with the users themselves. The private digital usage behaviour of customers and employees has a great impact on the expectations of the product, the service, the ordering process, and the internal work processes. Speed, agility, and flexibility not only reflect the characteristics of customer and employee expectations, but also the agile workflow per se.
Due to the flexible way of working and the creation of sprints, it is possible to change the objective even after the project has started. This allows you to quickly respond to changed or new customer requests. The biggest advantage, however, is the reduction of risks. Problem sources and resource bottlenecks can be identified early and repaired faster.
With more responsibility, transparency, and independent work, the motivation of the employees increases. 38 percent of companies that operate agile project management agree with this statement, according to Bitkom. Quick feedback and flat hierarchies add to this sense of well-being.
Challenges in implementing agile methods
Yet there are challenges, if not pain-points, in the implementation of agile methods:
- Organisational structure: The introduction of agile project management requires a change in the culture and organisation of the company. The key phrase:change management. Unfortunately, this restructuring does not happen overnight. Highly adaptive skills, patience, and courage are needed.
- Supporting employees: Not every employee can handle changes well. The new skill set of the project organisation requires a change of perspective, empathy with the user, as well as customer and service understanding. Therefore, training and promotion of staff should be the focus, if agile project approach is serious.
- New roles are needed: In order to respond to the challenges of automation and digitisation, new roles are also needed. Further education should be high on your agenda.
- More communication: In contrast to the waterfall, agile project management requires several small meetings and talks. But just a warning, to achieve positive results, precise tasks and steps should be distributed (as best as possible with a timeline) to specific people.
- Agile means price “variable”: Since the project is so flexible and open, it is difficult to calculate the final costs in advance.
Working Agile – Beyond Scrum
Customers want their shopping needs along the entire customer journey fulfilled. The latest technical developments ensure that this also happens with even less time and effort. Basically this is: for marketers who launch a product, developers who implement a new feature in the online shop, and designers who want to make an innovative app more intuitive.
Although Scrum is by far the most widely used agile method in IT, there are other methods, such as Kanban or Lean Startup, that are no less effective. For example, more and more companies are choosing the so-called MVP (Minimum Viable Product) to provide a product, online store, or service as soon as possible with the most essential individualized core functionality for the end user. In this way, retailers and manufacturers can find out how good the new product is and, depending on the feedback, adapt, expand, or even freeze the project bit by bit.
Although Kanban is far behind Scrum, this method is more popular in the service industry (19 percent) than in retail (8 percent). This proves that not all workflows work for everyone. In this context, it is important to realise that not only are these agile processes suitable for IT or developer teams. Marketers, distributors, designers and even teachers can benefit.